Whilst I applaud ‘naturals’ in skincare and cosmetics (provided they are 100% or near enough and the company haven't just thrown in a few natural ingredients just to jump on the bandwagon), when it comes to perfumery I’ve always been on the fence. Discussing it with a perfumer a few years ago, he likened the issue to buying a t-shirt that’s primarily natural cotton but has a small percentage of polyester, to allow it to ‘bounce back’ after washing and help it retain its shape. Similarly with perfumery, while naturals are the stars of the show, you still need synthetics as the “special effects”, to add structure and 'seasoning' to the other notes. For example, Chanel No 5 wouldn’t be what it was without a good glug of sparkling aldehydes, a synthetic ingredient without which this concoction would just be another perfectly pleasant floral scent but nothing special (although saying that, Madame Chanel would have probably got people buying it anyway but that’s another story). Hence why up until now, I always thought fragrances were by and large a little dull without a few synthetics in the mix. That was until I stumbled across new British perfumery Prosody, who launched in https://www.fortnumandmason.com last week.
Prosody's perfumes and candles are made from plant-derived materials, natural isolates, essential oils and organic grain alcohol. Although the entire line is 100% natural with a high percentage of organic ingredients, these are no mere ‘passable’ concoctions but could easily hold their own against many of the bolshy, synthetic-heavy scents on the market. This is a credit to the skills of founder and perfumer Keshen Teo, who - enlisting the guidance of natural perfume expert Mandy Aftel - created his own compounding lab where he oversaw the entire range, working with technicians to create a range of natural scents with sufficient longevity and complexity to rival their synthetic counterparts.
The fragrance I’m currently wearing, Jacinth Jonquil packs a heady floral punch of bluebells and hyacinths, while Rose Rondeaux is as nuzzle-some as any rose scent I’ve encountered, with a bright raspberry accord ‘lifting’ everything and basically doing the job an aldehyde otherwise would. There’s the inevitable oud scent in the form of Oud Octavo, but this dreamy, melodic concoction is a world away from the type of ‘knock-you-for-six’ scents you might normally encounter. The candles are made from a blend of coconut, carnauba and beeswax (so not suitable for vegans sadly) with promising names such as Pleasance Pepper, Apricot Ardour and Whisky Wisteria - the latter of which is inspired by the jazz age, with opulent notes of jasmine and juniper one can imagine Gatsby himself scenting his parties with it (or dinner parties for a handful of people in Zone 4 if that’s all your budget can muster).
The branding takes inspiration from English literature (‘prosody’ defined as the writing style of a particular poet) while the artwork adorning the packaging definitely has a ‘Bloomsbury Group’ feel to it. We’d definitely be writing a few sonnets about these if we had the time and poetic flair.
Available in store at at Fortnum & Mason and online at prosodylondon.com